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Phage or foe: an insight into the impact of viral predation on microbial communities

AuthorsFernández, Lucía; Rodríguez González, Ana ; García Suárez, María Pilar
Issue Date25-Jan-2018
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationISME Journal - International Society for Microbial Ecology 12: 1171- 1179 (2018)
AbstractSince their discovery, bacteriophages have been traditionally regarded as the natural enemies of bacteria. However, recent advances in molecular biology techniques, especially data from “omics” analyses, have revealed that the interplay between bacterial viruses and their hosts is far more intricate than initially thought. On the one hand, we have become more aware of the impact of viral predation on the composition and genetic makeup of microbial communities thanks to genomic and metagenomic approaches. Moreover, data obtained from transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic studies have shown that responses to phage predation are complex and diverse, varying greatly depending on the bacterial host, phage, and multiplicity of infection. Interestingly, phage exposure may alter different phenotypes, including virulence and biofilm formation. The complexity of the interactions between microbes and their viral predators is also evidenced by the link between quorum-sensing signaling pathways and bacteriophage resistance. Overall, new data increasingly suggests that both temperate and virulent phages have a positive effect on the evolution and adaptation of microbial populations. From this perspective, further research is still necessary to fully understand the interactions between phage and host under conditions that allow co-existence of both populations, reflecting more accurately the dynamics in natural microbial communities.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-018-0049-5
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